Yes it’s that time of year. No, not back to school shopping time. iPhone release time. The exact timing has slipped a bit from mid Summer to late Summer/Early Fall, but none the less, we are approaching a new release of the iPhone. We should be expecting a new design from Apple.
Apple tends to release their items on a 2 year schedule to match the standard contracts most people have. The “tick” is a redesign with a lot of new features, the “tock” is a solid spec upgrade with improvements mostly coming from the software side of things. This is definitely on the “tick” side of things.
And who knows, we might even see some non-iPhone related items.
First off the name. Gone are the numbers and letter modifiers. Much like it’s larger iPad brethren, and more distant computer cousins, the iPhone will just be the “new” iPhone. Will that confuse some people? Sure. Will Apple care? No. It didn’t hurt the sales of the iPad when they did it there, and my guess is the same will happen with the iPhone.
The Timeframe & Price
From the reports were looking at a September 12th announcement event, with it available to everyone the 21st. You’ll most likely be able to preorder that Friday (the 14th).
Price will most likely stay steady as it has for the last couple years. Apple likes to update hardware not prices.
The guts are what makes the phone be what it is. As with each new version of the iPhone we get the standard little progression of things like CPU and RAM, while occasionally a few bumps in new technologies. This is gonna be one of those “bump” years.
- Hard Specs – First the normal stuff. The CPU will most likely be a 1.25 GHz dual core A6 chip, with the RAM being increased to 1 GB. As for the HD, I think Apple’s push into iCloud will have them keep the HD sizes steady for now. This will help keep the cost down to offset some of the other tech, as well as help leverage the iCloud offerings.
- LTE – About time. Apple tends to wait till a technology is mature enough and wide-spread enough before implementing it properly… but they might have waited a bit long on this one. Yes, this should be the iPhone we see with LTE on it. Much of the US has some LTE coverage, and that roll-out will be quickly increasing. And as an added bonus there are rumors AT&T will still let users be grandfathered in with their unlimited data plans. The downside? LTE is on a slightly different spectrum for each of the different carriers so look again for carrier specific phones.
- Larger Battery – My guess on the larger size of the iPhone design (more on that in a bit) has a good deal to do with the power drain LTE has on cell life. By some reports, LTE ends up draining your battery between 5-10% more, with real life anecdotes being much worse. Add to that your still running your normal “non-4G” network at the same time and you get a huge power drain. One huge advantage Apple has always touted is they don’t get less battery life from their newer devices. So look for a larger battery to keep battery life reported at roughly 8 hours normal use.
- No NFC – As nice as I think this would be… my guess is their going to wait till the “tock” of the cycle. My guess is that they are going to wait till the get all the bugs worked out of their Passport system first, then when that’s working pretty well introduce it in next year’s release. Would it be nice? Yes. But I think Apple will hold out on this one for a year.
Then there are those that don’t care whats in the phone, just how they look while holding it. We’ve seen a lot of images regarding the case design at this point and they’re all pretty much pointing at the same device. So there probably won’t be much surprise here.
Some say this new design isn’t different enough from the iPhone 4 & 4S and will hurt sales. Tell that to the record breaking sales of the iPhone 4S which looked identical to it’s predecessor.
- Case – The case seems to be a bit taller (about half an inch). From the images we’ve received we seem to be looking at something a bit taller, a bit thinner, but still the same width. Gone is the glass back (perhaps too many cracks?) and instead a more metallic looking case. And of course in the standard white & Black
- Screen – 4″ diagonal screen at a resolution of 1136 x 640. This is one of the reasons for the extra 0.5″ height. The screen width appears to be unchanged. Also the extra space above and below the screen has been shrunk some, to keep the entire device from becoming too unmanageable. Etrade Supply has some good measurements regarding the leaked part that everyone has been talking about for a few months now.
- Headphone Jack – Along with the new screen it appears the headphone adapter has been moved to the bottom. I’ve been trying to think when this would cause a problem for me, but honestly I can’t think of a single time. I either listen to it without it being plugged int, plug it in with my headphones, or have it docked but don’t use my headphones. And since it’s bigger, using old cases would still be a problem anyway.
- Dock Connector – Apple has never shied away from taking something that works perfectly well, and throwing it out completely to replace it with something else. They tend not to do this just for the sake of selling new things (although I’m sure that’s a “happy” side effect), they tend to do it only if it truly adds something from the design. They did this recently with the MageSafe Adapters since they needed it to be smaller for the new Retina MacBooks. They did this with ADB when replacing it with USB. When Apple does something they do it completely, all hands in. It appears Apple is going to a much smaller dock connector, probably to allow the iPhone to be thinner. I also wouldn’t be surprised that they would introduce some of that MagSafe technology into it. Expect this new smaller, thinner connector to be showing up shortly on all the iOS devices.
One More Thing
Apple has waned a bit from doing “One More Thing”, since that was Steve’s phrase. But that doesn’t mean their won’t be some unexpected surprises at the event:
- Software – We already know a lot of what’s coming in iOS 6. However that doesn’t mean that Apple can’t slip in some iPhone (5) only features in there. WIth the new Siri integration into cars, perhaps apple will have them also integrate other car reporting tools: like low tie pressure, gas mileage, or other items that can be read using an OBD-II system (that thing the mechanics hook up to your car to figure out what’s wrong). It makes sense that things will change with the bigger screen size (such as adding another row of icons per page), but what else might they add?
- Smart Cover – This is a “ooooh that’d be neat”, kinda one more thing. I give it about a 50/50 shot of coming true. It would make sense that they would take the successful covers they’ve made for the iPad, and shrink it down to work for the iPhone. This would require some magnets to be places inside the case. With the new dock connector, magnets on the side my not be a huge stretch.
- iPod Touch – IT makes sense that since Apple doesn’t tend to do a “iPod” event anymore they’d announce a newer style iPod Touch at this event. This will probably follow the trend of being 1 step behind its overachieving big brother in terms of specs. It should be receiving a 1Ghz A5 chip, 8MegaPixle camera, and 512 in Ram. Probably the only thing it will be borrowing from the new line will be the larger 4″ display. And since it doesn’t have to worry about LTE, or other Cell signal devices (and the battery that goes with it) it will most likely be thinner too.
- iPad & iPad (little? mini? nano?), & “other” iPods – I’m kinda conflicted here… One the one hand I don’t see them watering down a iPhone event with a bunch of other stuffs. On the other, the chances are pretty good they’ll need to update the entire line to this new dock connector. With the expectations that a new iPad, er… “something” will be released soon, it’s a good guess we’ll have another event if it doesn’t show up at this one. If they see the new smaller iPad/larger iPod to be important enough we’ll have another event to harold it, along with all the other iOS devices. If it’s just going to be a footnote, then they’ll probably announce the new “something” and quietly update everything else.
Upside of all this? We should know exactly what were getting in just over a month. Till then, let the rumors continue!